McCraney began learning the printing business at the age of seven working with the Miner's Express. This paper was merged with the Dubuque Herald that he eventually owned.
During the CIVIL WAR, McCraney worked as a United States assessor. After the war he was employed as a United States tax collector until 1883. McCraney is credited with starting several other Iowa newspapers and surveying fourteen towns in Iowa.
Oldt, Franklin. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880, p. 842